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Ideas about women in the earliest printed Dutch vernacular books: Female saints' lives, exempla, and their female readers

van Dort, Catharina Theodora Hendrika; (1998) Ideas about women in the earliest printed Dutch vernacular books: Female saints' lives, exempla, and their female readers. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

In the first instance, the thesis explores ideas about women published in incunables (ca. 1450-1501) printed in the Low Countries. The sources under consideration are female saints' Lives and exempla printed in the Dutch vernacular. In chapter 1, each source is introduced and scrutinised for its potential contribution to this topic. Since the sources appeared in the vernacular and published, they were available to lay readers. The second aim of the thesis is to demonstrate that women were among them. In chapter 2, various elements of women's involvement in Netherlandish book culture are examined. There is enough evidence to suggest that middle class female readers were erudite and interested enough to seek access to the incunables. Both genres of saints' Lives and exempla, although diverse, contain similar ideas about women. These ideas are commonly expressed within the framework of the woman's marital state (virgin, wife or widow) or as mother or daughter. Also included are ideas on the female in spiritual roles (for instance, as bride of Christ). In chapters 3 and 4, these textual images are analysed in depth as topoi. To indicate to what extent the ideas, most of which predate the fifteenth century, were still valid, a link has been established between ideas and the relevance for the female recipient. An attempt has been made to relate these ideas to aspects of social reality of late medieval laywomen. The thesis infers that many ideas about women within the family were prescriptive and intended for admiration and emulation. The thesis contributes to many fields of historical inquiry. Although the core of the thesis is embedded in social history (which incorporates the history of ideas and attitudes), elements of the history of the book, the history of the Low Countries, and women's history are broached as well.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Ideas about women in the earliest printed Dutch vernacular books: Female saints' lives, exempla, and their female readers
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Social sciences; Netherlands
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10102671
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